KSU proposes 7 percent tuition hike to offset cuts in state support

By Bryan Richardson

Kansas State University is proposing a seven percent tuition raise for main campus students in the 2013-14 academic year, a portion to be used to address funding cuts.

President Kirk Schulz presented the proposal to the Kansas Board of Regents on Thursday along with the other Regents institutions. A final decision will take place during the June 19-20 Regents meeting.

Tuition at the Salina campus would also increase seven percent, with a three percent at the veterinary medicine college.

KSU administration said there is a $6.6 million reduction in state general fund money for the upcoming fiscal year based on current numbers: K-State main campus ($3.6 million or 3.5 percent), K-State Research and Extension ($2.7 million or 5.6 percent), and K-State College of Veterinary Medicine ($355,221 or 2.4 percent).

The tuition increases is expected to raise $11.7 million in new revenue. Nearly $5.5 million of that revenue would be used to offset the reductions in state general funding. Another $1.1 million in reallocated money would be used to offset the remaining state general fund cuts.

For an undergraduate student taking 15 hours including required fees, tuition would be $4,292.70 for a resident (a $269.40 increase) and $10,765.20 for a non-resident (a $692.40 increase).

For a graduate student taking 12 hours including required fees, it would be $4,578 for a resident (a $287.70 increase) and $9,858.90 for a non-resident (a $633.30 increase).

For a veterinary medicine student taking 20 hours including required fees, it would be $10,625.70 for a resident (a $320.90 increase) and$23,619.70 for a non-resident (a $698.90 increase).

The handling of KSU Extension was a point of contention during the meeting. Schulz said he used tuition dollars to cover the cuts because it’s an integral part of being a land-grant institution.

“We cannot be a land-grant institution and support agriculture, human ecology and those types of things across the state without a great extension service,” he said.

The Regents argued amongst themselves whether this was the right thing to do. Some argued for allowing the cuts to happen in order to show the consequences of that approach while others said the programs need to be saved if possible.

Regent Ed McKechnie said using tuition dollars to offset state support is saving the legislature from itself. He said the method isn’t sustainable if it happens again. “So far, your proposal is encouraging bad behavior,” he said.

Regent Christine Downey-Schmidt of Inman said the services are needed. “It’s like a hospital,” she said. “They’re not allowing people to die to prove a point that they need more funds.”

Regent Robba Moran of Manhattan said the issue is that if programs are removed, it won’t be the legislators taking the heat.

“The problem is they don’t trace it back to (state legislators),” she said. “It’s ‘Why did K-State cut extension?’ Then our universities get blamed when what we’re trying to do is put this back on the legislature.”

Schulz also presented a draft of the faculty and staff salary plan. University administrators have been working on a three-year plan to increase salaries. Faculty and unclassified employees gave Schulz a resolution signed by 511 of them pushing for increased salaries last month.

In fiscal year 2014, there is $1.26 million for faculty promotion and professional performance awards. In FY15, there’s $5.39 million to increase pay including $3.8 million to provide two percent merit increases. In FY16, there’s $5.5 million for pay increases including $3.88 million for two percent merit increase.

Schulz noted the plan still needs to be finalized and might include merit increases in FY14. He said the funding for salary increases would come from tuition rate increases, enrollment growth revenue and reallocation of funds.

The Regents also urged Gov. Sam Brownback to veto the cap in salary expenses that the legislature voted to place on state agencies. Higher education institutions are allowed spend beyond the cap if they utilize money other than state funding.

“Short-sighted,” “An attack on 4-H,” and “Public policy nightmare” were some of the words used by the Regents to describe the higher education cuts.

The legislature wrapped up its session Sunday with a budget that cuts higher education 1.5 percent over the next two fiscal years as well as takes away state funding for salaries during that same time period.

Moran said the salary cuts hurt the ability to obtain quality educators. “People need to be paid what they’re worth,” she said. “I want good people here. They have to be paid to do that.”

Regent Tim Emert said the university presidents aren’t doing a very good job of getting the facts together to show that faculty members are leaving because of low pay. He said you have to hit legislators “over the head with that.”

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